MPs ask Justin Muturi to rule on pending BBI Bills

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi will give direction on the fate of the seven proposed legislations before the House touching on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which was declared unconstitutional by the courts.

MPs led by former Majority Leader Aden Duale sought Muturi’s guidance on whether to proceed with the seven legislations or wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict.

“What is the effect of the judgement on the various Bills to amend the Constitution, which are at different stages in the House and the legislative proposals yet to be published in terms of the basic structure application?” Duale posed.

The proposed legislations include the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2019 sponsored by Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua, Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2019 by Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei on the two thirds gender rule.

Other Bills sponsored by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni-led Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee and West Mugirango MP Vincent Kemose have proposals akin to the BBI.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill No 6 of 2019 by Kemose seeks to amend the Constitution to allow for appointment Ministers from among MPs while the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill No.5 of 2019 sponsored by Kioni seeks to amend Article 90 to allow political parties to nominate to the National Assembly and the Senate, presidential and deputy presidential candidates.

Similarly, the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill No.40 of 2020 by the Ndaragwa MP seeks to have the President appoint Cabinet Secretaries from among MPs.

The Bill also seeks to have the Attorney-General perform functions of a Cabinet Secretary as assigned by the President as well as allow a governor to appoint MCAs as members of the county executive committee.

Duale argued that the Bills seek to amend various provisions of the Constitution and provide for among others, changes of timelines of the nomination of MPs so that it is after a General Election.

Presently, political parties are required to submit a zebra-party list to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before the General Election and slots awarded as per the number of seats garnered.

“This includes Kenya diaspora as special interests group under Article 97 of the constitution,” he said.

The Garissa Township MP noted that the proposed legislation also seeks to increase the number of elected women to the National Assembly through Affirmative Action from 47 to 136.

“Amend Article 152 to provide that the President shall appoint CSs from among MPs and Article 90 of the Constitution to make provision for political parties to nominate to the National and Senate, presidential and deputy presidential candidates,” Duale told the House.

He further sought to know whether it is prudent for the House to suspend the processing of the Bills.

The Court of Appeal declared BBI unconstitutional but Attorney General Kihara Kariuki plans to appeal the judgement at the Supreme Court.

BBI secretariat co-chairmen Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Dennis Waweru also said they will join the AG at the Apex court despite President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga indicating that they will not appeal the judgement.

Duale said Kenya is facing other serious issues. “In my view, we should not spend time of the House considering Bills and legislative proposals to amend the Constitution after the courts faulted the whole process for not following due procedure and lack of proper legal framework,” he said.

But Majority Leader Amos Kimunya argued: “We thought we could get a solution but we seem to have sunk deeper into confusion because of this.”

The Kipipiri MP however backed the parties heading to Supreme Court so that “there is a legislative framework through which people can change their Constitution.”

“If the people cannot amend their Constitution to fit the circumstances of the day then we are headed to the alternative which is keeping the Constitution aside and starting afresh,” he added.

Minority Leader John Mbadi called for guidance on how to proceed with the pending Bills. “Despite what the courts have ruled, what I would want you to consider is the power of the House to legislate which must remain,” he said.

Mbadi argued that citizens should not be subjected to constitutional slavery but have the right to amend the Constitution if need be.

“Any dictatorship by any arm of government is bad for any country. We do not want judicial dictatorship where they think they are God,” he said.

Kangema MP Muturi Kigano who also doubles as the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) chairman faulted the courts, saying they are interfering with the power of the legislature.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said the House should focus on other important Bills that affect mwananchi.

“Right now our country is facing bigger issues like the coronavirus pandemic that is killing people. How do we start talking about the Constitution when people are dying?” He posed.

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